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Bodies of five helicopter crash victims recovered by rescue workers

The bodies of all five family members who died when their helicopter crashed in Snowdonia have been recovered by rescue workers.

The victims have been identified as Kevin and Ruth Burke aged 56 and 49, Donald and Sharon Burke aged 55 and 48, and Barry Burke, 51, all from the greater Milton Keynes area, North Wales Police said.

The three men, believed to be brothers travelling with two of their wives, were on the way to a family confirmation service when the helicopter crashed, according to the Irish Independent.

Their bodies were found with the wreckage of the helicopter in the Rhinog mountains near Trawsfynydd on Thursday, following a major search which began on Wednesday when the privately-owned Twin Squirrel aircraft failed to arrive in Dublin.

Chief Inspector Richie Green, at North Wales Police, said: "Shortly before 3.30pm this afternoon the last of the five who were on board the helicopter were recovered and they have now been transported to a local hospital's mortuary.

"Thames Valley Police family liaison officers have informed family members and we can now begin the very difficult process of formal identification.

"We'll continue to support the family and I'd simply ask both media and public alike to respect their privacy at this time. Our thoughts remain with the extended family and their friends."

He also thanked the 80-plus police officers and rescue workers involved "not just for their dedication and skill in very trying conditions but also the dignified and compassionate manner in which the whole operation was conducted".

Kevin and Ruth Burke, from Hulcote near Milton Keynes - close to where the helicopter took off - were directors of Staske Construction, which owned a Twin Squirrel.

The family is reported to have strong links with Ireland and Ruth Burke is believed to be from Dublin.

The three brothers were the sons of an Irish couple who emigrated to Britain, according to the Irish Independent.

Dewi Pritchard Jones, senior coroner for North West Wales, told the Press Association that a coroner's investigation to determine the causes and circumstances of death has been opened.

Model Danielle Lloyd paid tribute to two of the victims on Instagram.

She wrote: "Such sad news about Ruth and Kevin Burke they were two of the nicest people I've ever had the privilege to meet and my thoughts and prayers are with all the family."

Now the bodies have been recovered, a joint investigation led by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) "will begin in earnest", Mr Green said.

The police said they and the AAIB are hoping to begin recovery of the helicopter over the weekend, weather permitting.

Until then, the temporary exclusion zone over the crash site with a height of 5,500ft (1,676m) above sea level, reduced to a two mile radius, will remain.

The force has released a new photo of the site prior to the crash, and is appealing for anyone who saw the aircraft flying over Snowdonia between 12pm and 1pm on Wednesday to contact the force by calling 101.

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